Understanding an ecosystem means following changes in the abundances and identities of the species present as the clock ticks. The BioTIME database should help.
“We find that the composition of ecosystems around the world is changing much more rapidly than we expected. Indeed, much more rapidly than ecological theory predicts.”
Biologist Anne Magurran of the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland.
“We still don’t understand the consequences of this. We think that it’s going to be associated with a reduction in resilience in these assemblages, but there are still many questions to be addressed about the consequences of this rapid biodiversity change. And what it means is that if we’re interested in conservation we need to do much more than count species. We also need to track changes in the abundances and identities of the species present in these ecosystems. Conservation biologists will need to keep track of the types of species that they find in these places. And policy makers will need to will to take account of these changes in their policy.
To that end, Magurran and colleagues are establishing what they’re calling the BioTIME Database, a repository for information about ecological communities and populations, and how they’re changing over time. Magurran spoke on January 26th with Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
MD: “And the data set is going to be published very soon?”
AM: “Yes, we’re publishing the data set. It’s an open access data set, so anybody anywhere in the world can use it for research, for education, for conservation. And we’d be delighted to collaborate with anybody who has data and wishes to join with us or wishes to support the preservation of the data set in any way.”
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]